The Year in Review

As the year comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the past 12 months of fly fishing in south Louisiana. It’s been an incredible year on the water, with numerous memorable trips and experiences. I have learned to really focus on the beauty of our local waters and the peace it brings to me sitting in a kayak and “blending in” with my surroundings.

One of the highlights of each year is to be able to make new friends and kindle relationships through the sport. While I don’t get the opportunity to fish as often as I would like with them, I do cherish the friendships I’ve gained with Chuck and Chris. I have had the pleasure of fishing with Chuck on numerous occasions throughout the year and although I haven’t been able to fish with Chris yet, I have had opportunities to share a couple of beers and tie flies with him.

In addition to trips down in the Southeastern Louisiana marsh, I also spent a lot of time this year in my neighborhood lake. This quiet little spot offers an opportunity for a quick “get away” when my busy work and family schedules don’t allow me to venture far from home. It also provides me with an opportunity to test new flies and variants on the local fish. In the coming year, I plan on exploring the many bayous and estuaries that make south Louisiana such a great place to fly fish. The variety of species that can be found in these areas is truly impressive, and each trip offers the opportunity to encounter something new. One of the goals I have set for myself is to up my species variety.

Overall, it’s been a fantastic year of fly fishing in south Louisiana, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year has in store. Here’s to hoping for more good weather and plenty of fish in 2023!

Fishing should be relaxing

I was looking for an opportunity to get down to my beloved Southeast Louisiana Marsh and the weather looked to be outstanding this past Saturday. I called my buddy, Chuck, up and we met at our favorite combat launch in Hopedale at 7 AM. A strong cold front earlier in the week had me psyched to be able to sight-fish for some redfish. As we launched, I noticed that the weatherman had finally gotten it right. We were greeted with calm winds and bright skies…perfect for sight-fishing. I really needed this trip. It’s been a busy, stressful, semester with work, health issues of loved ones and family and other “roadblocks” I’ve had to go around. I started to tell Chuck about some of it and he stopped me and said, “Relax buddy.” Thanks! I needed that!

It was a gorgeous morning. I noticed the usual suspects as we peddled our way to our first fishing spot. There were herons, kingfishers, a descent sized alligator, a few “French ducks” and a small group of teal. The teal brought back many great memories as I watched them zig zag their way over the marsh grass. It’s been at least ten years since I went duck hunting, a passion that I enjoyed for many years. Reduced limits, more posted lands, expenses, and a growing family have kept me away from my shotgun. I make up with it by fly fishing.

I got to my first spot, and I stood up to see that the water wasn’t as clean as I had wished. In fact, visibility was quite poor. I push-poled my way through the marsh and looked for action in cuts in the marsh with no luck. As I poled my way, I heard some drumming. I looked and saw that I had spooked a redfish as I saw it’s wake plow away from me. That was redfish number one. I continued to work my way along the bank, and I saw redfish number two. It too spooked before I could get my rod into a good casting position. Thank goodness it was a calm morning. I saw a large splash about 100 yards away from me. I knew it had to be a redfish, although there were a lot of large mullet in the area. One couldn’t assume that every splash or boil was a redfish. Well, I thought it was a redfish until I saw a large heron fly away from the spot. I then deducted it was just a splash from the feeding shorebird. So, I continued on. I got to some more grassy area and the water cleaned up a little bit, but nothing to get too excited over. If I was going to spot fish, they were going to have to be feeding in the very shallow areas which were clear enough for me to see them before they spotted me. That’s when I saw another large boil and the tell-tale wake of a big redfish in the same area I saw the commotion earlier. I push-poled my way over there, stopping about 60 feet in front of where I saw the commotion. I was determined NOT to spook this fish, so I patiently waited to see if it would show itself again. Water was slowly trickled out of a cut in the marsh and the water was dirty so again, I didn’t want to through away my chance by rushing in. My patience paid off because about five minutes later, I saw the tail of the fish as it chased baitfish nearby. I poled about 10 feet closer, and I waited for my shot. Then I saw it. It was moving about 40-50 feet away from me and it hadn’t seen me. I placed my spoon fly about two feet in front of it and it turned on me. Darned. I knew I didn’t spook it, so I just waited some more. A couple minutes later, I saw its tail again and I put my fly ahead of it again. No eat again. I told myself, “This is supposed to be relaxing. Come on, Doc.” I could feel my heartbeat race as I anticipated the eat. I relaxed and waited some more and about a minute later, the fish made another pass close enough for me to put my fly two feet in front of its nose. Strip. Strip. BAM! It was on! I made a good strip set and I hung on. Determined not to lose this fish, I let it get on the drag quickly and I let it do its thing. The fish angrily fought and fought, picking up grass on my line as it went. I actually thought at one point that I had foul-hooked it in its belly but that was just grass holding my line down. When the fish changed directions, the grass fell off and I was able to keep its head high enough to keep it from digging down in the grass again. About ten minutes later, I was easing the big redfish into my net, which by the way, isn’t big enough AND the weight of the fish pulled one of the rings out of the net handle. Santa Clause is going to have to get me an upgrade.

The redfish was what we call a “baby bull,” that is, one that’s over the slot limit of 27 inches. It was fat, heavy and long at 28 inches.

A nice, healthy baby bull.

After a couple of pictures, I let her go because I personally don’t like to clean or eat any over about 24 inches.

Looking relaxed πŸ™‚

That was the last redfish I would see all day. The wind picked up to a steady 12 mps and that, combined with high dirty water, made sight-fishing nearly impossible. We peddled over 8 miles, and I can tell you I’m quite sore even two days later. I got back to our combat launch around 2 and I was disgusted by what I found. I had noticed when we put in that there was a large amount of trash that had been left by bank fishermen. It’s embarrassing to have to admit that I’m from Louisiana at times. You just don’t see this in the streams in other states! I picked up enough trash to fill a crawfish sack and that didn’t even put a dent into the mounds of trash. That put a damper on what otherwise was a relaxing, fun day.

Chuck casts in a small cut

This is what poling around in a kayak looks like. Some of the kids in my high school fly fishing club can’t imagine what it’s like.

Fall is in the air.

Most of the time, when people down south begin to celebrate crisp cool mornings with bluebird skies and temperatures in the low 50’s, it backfires on them and they end up with just a tease as the high temps creep up to 90 degrees within a few days. I cringe just to say it out loud, but I’ll do it anyway… I think fall has arrived in south Louisiana. We hit several mornings with temperatures in the low to mid 50s and I took advantage of a free morning to visit my favorite little piece of paradise close to home. I actually had to wear a sweatshirt out on the water as I slipped my kayak in the calm cool morning. I learned one thing from last week’s outing. The bass were only active very early in the morning. I was hoping the cooler weather would have them more actively feeding today.

I must have slipped my kayak in the water at 6:35 and by 6:45, I had landed my first big bass of the morning. I was going LSU colors or nothing today.

This early morning bass measured 18 inches and it ate the LSU diver.

Within fifteen minutes, I had landed three bass and I thought it was going to be a stellar morning. Well it was stellar. I mentioned the crisp clear air and the calm winds. I heard the tell-tale cracks of several shotguns from hunters who were also taking advantage of the cool morning to try their luck at the opening day of squirrel season. From the sound of things, they shot enough to have a nice squirrel gumbo. I spent some time after my third bass looking around for that alligator but I didn’t see it this morning. I did see an array of birds from white herons to red-headed woodpeckers, to those whistling ducks and a pair or two of wood ducks. Of course it was futile to try to get pictures of them with nothing but an iPhone. Anyway, the disappointing news of the day was I didn’t get another bite after about 7:05. I get asked by my students why I’m so successful at catching fish on my fly rod. I’m probably not all that successful when it comes down to it. However, I do ramp my chances up by getting an early start…a very early start. Most teenagers sleep in on Saturday mornings so they miss the bite.

There was some more excitement this morning as one of the gentlemen who hunts the land behind the lake harvested an 8-point deer with his bow. I got to see the deer in the back of his truck and it was a nice-sized one. I marveled at the perfectly-placed shot that went right through the lungs and probably the heart too. It’s always good to see a deer that has been harvested cleanly, with a good shot. It really disappoints me to hear about the ones that get shot but the hunter isn’t able to find the downed animal.

Anyway, I’ll leave with a picture of the fish of the day, a big bass that was nearly 19 inches long. Until next time…tight loops and tight lines.

This early morning bass measure nearly 19 inches long.

Redemption, the Weekend Warrior

With the birth of a new granddaughter, Aniston Kate Andry, school in full swing, and other family obligations, I am the true definition of a “Weekend Warrior.” I look for opportunities to get on the water for a couple hours to enjoy a bit of solitude, watch nature do her thing, and try to fool a fish or two into finding my flies attractive. This Saturday, I found a couple hours to visit my favorite freshwater lake and I wasn’t disappointed. I arrived at dawn and slipped my kayak into the warm water (I found it to be quite warm for September 24). A pair of wood ducks whistled over my head as I began to toss one of my favorite deer hair bugs, the LSU diver, toward the bank…and why not…it was Saturday morning and the highly favored Tigers were set to host New Mexico State that evening.

Shortly thereafter, I got my first strike. It wasn’t one of those big splash strikes which makes fishing poppers so exciting. No, it was a quiet, but confident, slurp of a big fish. I say big, because it measured 17 inches on the ruler on my paddle, which put the fish around 3 pounds. Not bad at all for a fly rod bass and it looked like this morning was going to be stellar.

First bass of the morning was fooled by my LSU deer hair bug

A short while later, I was lipping my second bass of the morning. This one only measured 13 inches but it jumped and fought like it had something to prove.

Notice the buoys in the back? More on that later.

The bite slowed, so I paddled toward the back of the lake to get to some of my favorite water. I have a couple students who actually work for the gentleman who owns the property and they told me of a fish (shad) kill during all that rain we had last month. It was good to see some shad flopping around up against the bank near the grass. It was also good to see some bait balls which I assumed were baby shad from this year’s spawn that didn’t perish during the fish kill. I was also told about a six-foot alligator that had been spotted toward the back of the lake too. I actually did get to see the alligator but I didn’t get a photo of it. I was pedaling toward the back when it saw me, and it made it a point to put distance between itself and me before I could get my camera out the dry bin. I continued to fish but the action slowed. By now the sun was completely up and I figured the bass were leaving the shallows to get to some deeper water to escape the heat. I did manage one more bass on the LSU bug, a healthy fish that measured 15 inches.

Another bass on the LSU diver

I spotted the alligator once more and I watched as it swam nearly the entire length of the bank I intended to fish. Any self-respecting fish probably swam away for fear of being breakfast. I tied on a shad imitation streamer (Musicdoc shad fly) and I targeted fish in deeper water.

Musicdoc Shad

I also ran across three female whistling ducks with young broods that looked very concerned about the lurking alligator and this crazy dude in the light blue kayak. Sorry, no pics here either 😦

That’s when I noticed some stirring at the boat dock. Two colleagues of my buddy had arrived to do their morning workout routine. It’s a great workout that targets the arms, shoulders, legs, and core. If you guessed water skiing, you’re a winner. My friend had the lake dug because of his passion for water skiing. He only put fish in it as an afterthought. Nowadays, he probably fishes as much as he waterskis.

Anyway, my morning fishing was over and I felt a bit of redemption from my outing last weekend when I landed three bass and missed five strikes. This morning, after spending a little less than three hours on the water, I went three for three. While that might not seem like much to some people, it was just what I needed after a stressfully busy work week, the excitement of new life in the birth of my granddaughter, and stress from health issues of dear family and friends. I am thankful for my “weekend warrior” opportunities but I am truly blessed with a beautiful family and wonderful friends and I close this post out with some of my most prized blessings.

My heart is full.
My gorgeous daughter and my handsome grandson
Snuggle time with baby Aniston Kate

Summer Brown-lining (or ditch pitching)

I recently heard the term ‘brown-lining’ used by some buddies of mine in the Red Stick Fly Fishers Club. I kind of had an idea what they meant because I knew what blue lining was. Blue lining is fishing small, cold water creeks for trout. You look on a map of the area and you hike on out to the “blue line.” Since we don’t have any cold water creeks in south Louisiana, we do the next best thing…brown lining, or what I used to call it…ditch pitching. I guess brown lining sounds more sophisticated? or not??

Anyway, now that I’m through with camps, I wanted to get a mid morning trip in. My buddies said that this kind of fishing is fun, because you never know what you’ll see or catch. This morning’s trip was that sort of trip. I pulled my truck over to a drainage ditch that I had actually fished many years ago with a former student of mine. I remembered catching a lot of bass, bluegill, and what I consider the most beautiful and colorful fresh water fish in Louisiana, the long-eared sunfish. That was my target species for the morning.

We have been in a mini drought here in south Louisiana and I was prepared to see very shallow, but clear water. I would have to look for deeper cuts in order to find fish. I began with a hare’s ear nymph and I quickly began casting to some pretty spooky fish. It didn’t take long for me to realize these fish were looking up, so I tied on a yellow foam fly. No sooner than I had made the switch, I landed a pretty bluegill. I also quickly landed a small largemouth black bass, but I lost my fly when I tried to set the hook on another fish and it got caught in the tree behind me. No worries because I had a whole box of foam flies. I tied on a black beetle and quickly caught several more bluegill.

This bluegill sucked in a black beetle

Soon there after, I landed my target species, a long eared sunfish.

Look how pretty this little guy was

And another and another. This went on for an hour or so until I got tired of catching these. I then spotted a garfish sitting still in about 10 inches or so of water. I tied on a squirrel-tail jig pattern that looked like a leech or a small crawfish. After several bad casts, I managed to get one close to those sharp teeth. It turned on my presentation and crushed the fly. I actually got the hook to stick (miraculously) and I had to figure out how I was going to land it without a net. I worked it down to an area that looked like I could ease it over a mud bank. Well, that hook set eventually worked itself out and the garfish casually swam away before I could snap a picture.

One of the cool things about this kind of fishing is you really never know what you will see or what you will hook into. I saw a catfish but I couldn’t get it to eat. I then began sight fishing to garfish. I hooked three more but each one ended up either getting off the hook or cutting my line. It was fun anyway. I figured I had had enough with the garfish so I tied up another foam fly that my friend, Drew Ross ties for trout and carp. I picked up several more fish on that fly before I called it a morning.

I have to remember to bring a net and some good hiking shoes next time. I hyperextended my big toe trying to climb up out of the ditch and I’m icing it down as I write this 😦

Here are some pictures from the morning:

These fish are so pretty, they look like they belong in an aquarium.

There were many other things to see this morning included great white herons, geese, a multitude of turtles, and one small water snake. If you haven’t tried “brown lining ” or “ditch pitching,” then you should give it a try.

Tight loops and tight lines πŸ™‚

Getting my Mojo Back

It has been a long time since I had a good day “catching” fish down in our South Louisiana Marsh. Any trip in our marsh is indeed, a blessing; whether I catch fish or not. Being able to experience the beauty that God created for us is worth the price of gas (whew… it keeps getting more expensive to enjoy). Yesterday’s trip was one for the books when it comes to enjoying the beautiful creation that too many of us take for granted.

I joined my friend and fellow fly fisherman, Chuck (Snakedoctor), for a trip to Hopedale, Louisiana. We knew we should have good fishing conditions (good sun, low winds, some tidal movement) and we hoped the fish would cooperate. I was breaking in a new kayak…yes, I have gone over to the dark side and I purchased a Hobie Compass, and I was looking to “slime” it. Chuck fishes nearly exclusively out of a Compass, so I was also looking for tips from him on how to load and unload the kayak, how to secure it to the bed of my truck, and how to fish out of it without getting my fly line stuck in the pedals. Right away, I started getting my line caught around the pedals and Chuck showed me how to secure the pedals in a way that would make casting easier.

I guess the biggest help Chuck was to me was, he taught me not to be so stubborn with my sight fishing. He showed me that quality redfish can be caught on the fly rod without having to sight fish for them. If any of you follow this blog, you know that for me, nothing beats sight-fishing for redfish in the shallows. I’m always searching for the perfect day with perfect conditions…low, clear water. However, with the cold water temperatures we have been experiencing, sight fishing the way I traditionally do has been out of the question. The shallow water, although gin clear, is just too cold and the only fish I’ve seen in the shallows the past two trips have been mullet and garfish. Chuck caught a couple of bass early on and I caught and released a 12-inch speckled trout. I figured I would have to do better than 12 inches if I was going to have to clean any fish today (sorry dad and mom). We decided to try our luck with speckled trout by fishing in deeper water. Chuck was the first to catch a speckled trout. I saw him with a big curve in his rod and he was getting the net. He said it was an upgrade to his Massey’s CPR Tournament. Anytime you catch an 18 inch trout on a 6 wt. fly rod, you have a reason to be excited.

Chuck smiling with an 18 inch trout

I snapped this picture of Chuck and his trout and I continued fishing. I then hooked into something that I thought was a small redfish, because it pulled hard and stayed down…not the traditional tell-tale head shaking that most trout do. I soon realized it was a huge trout! I netted it and measured it on my paddle at 20 inches. After weighing it (2.9 lbs) I realized I had just caught my personal best trout on the fly rod.

At 20.5 Inches, this trout is my personal best on the fly rod.

We continued to fish that stretch of deeper water and we each only picked up another trout, which was nothing worth sticking around for, so we headed off to some other areas in search of redfish.

Chuck was the first to hook into a really good “tugger” that measured 26 inches on his spoon fly. He caught it in deeper what (not sight fishing)

What a beautiful redfish! But who is the masked fisherman? πŸ™‚

I decided to forego sight fishing in the shallow flats and I began to “blind cast” certain points and the edges of the grass flats in deeper water. That was the ticket for me. I hooked into an energetic 27-inch red that took me into my backing. After a long fight, I got that one to the net.

I think we’re going to need a bigger net.
27 inches released to fight another day.

We continued to pound the deeper water around cuts and ditches in the marsh and Chuck connected on his third redfish of the day.

Anyway, I don’t want this post to get too long. I’ll do a review of the Compass (maybe during the halftime show of the Superbowl LOL). The day was actually incredible. We saw tons of wildlife included diving and puddle ducks, numerous other marsh hens, herons, and other birds. I did look for the alligator that roams this area (it’s about 8 to 10 feet long by now) but I didn’t see it. This should hold me for a while…honey do’s to do πŸ™‚ Until next time. Tight loops and tight lines.

One More Post for 2021

I didn’t know how to title this post. My choices were several, including “Fun on the 3 wt,” “A Crappie Ending to a Crappy Year,” “The Sunfish Trifecta,” or “Self-Quarantine Fun.” I couldn’t find a winner so I just chose, “One More Post for 2021.” Also, please forgive the two attempts I made at inserting a quick video. Not I cannot seem to be able to delete them. Just read on. πŸ™‚

I had actually been looking forward to this week. I had a whole week off from teaching and I had just said goodbye to my daughter’s family and my three grandchildren. Wouldn’t you know it, the weather got hot, cloudy, and windy…not good redfish sight fishing weather. In fact, the weather looked pretty crappy so I’ve been staying inside, tying flies and cleaning up my tying table.

When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I got a cup of coffee, did my “Bible in a Year” podcast, and I headed out to my neighborhood lake with my kayak in tow, a popper on a 5 wt, and a fluff butt on the 3 wt. I made a valiant attempt to hit the banks with the popper but I was having no luck at all. So I decided to focus on my favorite sunfish, bluegill and red-ear sunfish (chinquapin). I started catching small bluegill right away.

small but pretty
a little larger at 7 inches

I realized that the larger fish were hanging in deeper water, about 8-10 feet from the bank. I then hooked into a descent chinquapin.

These red-ear sunfish are thick and they fight hard on a 3 wt

Not long after that fish, I hooked what is probably my personal best chinquapin on my fly rod.

I measured that big one out at 11 inches on my paddle and I released it.

I was about to call it a day, when I caught my third different species in the sunfish family, a crappie (sacalait).

This one was 9 inches long

I was completely content at this point and I started heading back to my pickup point. That’s when I hooked a larger sacalait.

Now I had just told one of my neighbors who lives on the lake that I wasn’t keeping fish today. Heck, I hadn’t even thought about bringing my stringer because I’ve never caught a bunch of sacalait or big chinquapin in the month of December on the lake. Well, I proceeded to catch three more sacalait (all big enough to fillet) and I released them. That’s when it hit me…we have been eating Christmas leftovers for five days now and it’s time to eat something different. So, I beached my kayak and took the five minute walk over to my house to grab my stringer. I paddled back to where I had caught the last three sacalait, and wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t get a bite…well for about five minutes or so. Then I caught a nice one…then another… then another.

I had one break my size 3x tippet. I found that to be strange because it broke it off at the loop where I made the loop-to-loop connection. I patiently tied on another three-foot piece of tippet material and another fluff butt and I continued to catch a couple more sacalait before that tippet broke too. I was beginning to wonder if the brand new Orvis 3x tippet was defective. I wasn’t going to chance breaking off again, so I tied on 0x on my 3 wt. πŸ™‚ I finally called it a day with 8 good slabs.

They weren’t “hammers” but they were good-sized “slabs”

Anyway, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my morning with just two days left to the year. Heck, I’m probably going to try another neighborhood lake tomorrow morning. What a great way to end 2021!

Fried to perfection

A Crappie End to 2021

Dusting off the 8wts

I had to look back on this blog to see when was the last time I made a fishing trip to the South Louisiana Marsh in search for redfish and speckled trout. I saw that I made a couple trips in June and that’s it. That’s either a sad state of affairs for me or, the fresh water fishing has been awesome and it doesn’t warrant making the 2-and-a-half hour trip down to the coastal marshes to get some fishing in. Well, luckily for me, it was the latter. However, I do love fishing our South Louisiana Marshes in the fall and I saw a window of opportunity that opened after church yesterday. Here’s what my window looked like:

The winds were going to lay down
There was zero chance of rain and 100% chance of full sun
I had no school or family obligations
My wife was in Disneyworld with her sisters πŸ™‚

What I didn’t count on was this:

The water was high and muddy
There was zero tidal movement

Here’s the abbridged story:

I left Baton Rouge around 9:30 and headed to a spot I’ve fished for 10+years just north of Leeville. Most of you are probably aware that this area was destroyed by Hurricane Ida this past August. I saw lost of blue tarps on houses along the way and as I got closer to Leeville, I noticed buildings that had been gutted and it looked like some of those will not rebuild. There was debris all over the marsh, from empty fuel tanks to refrigerators and a lot of sheet metal.

After a quick combat launch, I made the quick paddle out to one of the spots that has produced for me in the past. Right off the bat, I had hooked into a small “schoolie” trout. About 3 casts later, I hooked into a nicer one at 16 inches

I know it doesn’t look like 16 inches but I measured it when I got home

I thought this was going to be the beginning of a wonderful afternoon, but much to my dismay, this trout must have been a loner. 😦

After catching a few more dink trout, I decided to switch gears to see if I could sight fish for some redfish. I thought surely, the storm would have brought some fresh fish inside. I guess the visibility was around 8 inches but I couldn’t see a thing. The wind was calm (too calm because the gnats were bad) and I constantly listened for the sounds of fish chasing bait along the marsh grass. I didn’t hear a thing except for the lively mammals in the area (nutria, otters, and porpoise) I just wished the fish would have been that lively. I chalked it up to the fact that there was no tide movement. About two hours into the hunt for redfish, I finally saw a huge bull red that was cruising about 15 feet from me. It was probably cruising about 3 mph while I was drifting about 3 mph in the opposite direction, so I couldn’t even get a cast off.

One of the highlights of the day were the numerous sheepshead I kept seeing. I didn’t check the time, but around 3 PM, I decided that the trout and the redfish weren’t going to play, so I tied on one of my musicdoc sheepshead shrimp flies. Of course, not that I had a shrimp fly tied on, I wasn’t spotting as many sheepshead as before and those I did see, were spooking and high tailing it to deeper water. I was casting toward a sheepshead when I noticed another large wake around the bank. That’s when I spotted my second redfish of the day. It made the mistake of staying in the shallows where I could see it and I attempted to make a well-placed cast toward it. Notice the emphasis on the word, “well-placed?” That was the original plan. My fly, however, nearly hit the redfish on its gill plate. It spooked momentarily and then it violently chased down that shrimp fly that had nearly hit its gill plate. Bam, fish on! I hadn’t felt the pull of a redfish since late June. This one had a lot of fight in it and it took a while to land this 23.5 inch beauty.

23.5 inch redfish put up a good fight on my 8 wt.

You can see just how calm the water was in this picture. It was a great day to be on the water. Like I told a friend of mine, “you can’t catch fish by sitting on your couch in the living room.” I hope to be able to get back on the water before Christmas. I’m still looking for that perfect day when everything lines up perfectly: sun, moon, water, and wind. That’s full sun, good tidal movement, clear water, and very little wind πŸ™‚

The absolute highlight of the day was when I was able to Facetime my grandchildren to show them the “big fish” Poppie had just caught. Their eyes lit up and they shared their excitement with me. That must have looked something like this:

Using this blog as a fishing log

I occasionally look back on this blog to see what time of year certain fish turn on for me, kind of like a fishing log of sorts. For example, I have kept track of when the speckled trout begin to make their move inside during their fall migration. I also keep track of when the sacalait begin to bite and when the bass begin to cruise the shallows in the neighborhood lakes in the spring and in the fall. I was looking back on a morning trip I took last year right after the first cool snap (temps in the lower 50s) and I noticed I had some considerable success right after our first cold front brought temperatures down in the 50s. So, I kind of had I idea that slipping the kayak into the neighbor lake this morning would bring me some action.

And why not? After a week of homecoming festivities that kept me at work until after 10 PM two evenings and after 8 PM another, I was due a morning of peaceful solitude with my fly rod and a deer-hair popper or two. The color of choice for this morning’s adventure? The purple and gold of our Tigers who upset those pesky Gators yesterday! I slipped my kayak into the water around 6:45, right at first light and began tossing a deer-hair diver toward the bank. About ten minutes into my morning paddle, I had hooked into my first bass. It was a small one, probably under 10 inches, but I recalled my trip from last year that the morning began with small fish and progressed nicely to larger ones.

The first fish of the morning smacked my version of the purple and gold Dalhberg diver

Five minutes later, I landed another one…and it was a little larger.

Here is a good picture of that diver

I began to notice a pattern. The fish were pretty tight against the bank and they seemed to consistently get larger as the morning wore on. Still, it was only around 7:15 when I landed fish number three.

Another one was liking the Tigers πŸ™‚

It seemed I was catching fish every five minutes or so, and by now I had caught four bass and I had lost a couple. Some of the takes were small slurps and others were downright slams! There was no consistency in the way they were hitting the bug. I did tell myself to pay attention because one of the missed fish was because I never really noticed the slurp and I didn’t get a good hook set in it. I was casting to a shallow area near one of the fountains when I saw a slight swirl and my popper disappeared. I set the hook good in it and it took off. I realized this one was larger…much larger. It took off toward the water fountain and started dragging me toward the water. I started cracking up because it seemed like this fish thought I needed a shower or something. I frantically tried to turn it and that wasn’t working, so I dug my paddle in the water to keep from getting soaked. I was beginning to think I was going to loose this fish in the wires or the downed debris under the fountain when I finally got the fish to turn away from the fountain. Meanwhile, I had gotten wet. If anyone was watching me, they certainly got a show and watched as we both laughed at my predicament. The fish tried one last time to get under the fountain and I was able to turn it without getting another shower from the fountain. When I saw its mouth, I knew it was a beast. I got a measurement from the ruler on my paddle at 21 inches, which is probably my personal best in length (not in weight) on the fly rod. I was in my yellow Wilderness Tarpon kayak and not my Jackson, so my fish scale wasn’t with me but I estimate the fish to be over 4.5 pounds and probably a conservative 5. This fish will be in the 6-7 lb range in the spring with it fattens up for the spawn.

Long and skinny but very long!
My arms weren’t long enough to get the full fish in the picture.
And my kayak wasn’t wide enough. That’s what you call a ‘bucket mouth.’
I love watching this big ones swim off. Thanks for the adventure!

Soon I regained my bearings from that adventure, I found myself setting the hook on another nice chunky bass. This one was 16 inches.

Another nice fish that went for the LSU diver.

It seemed like I was catching a fish now on just about every other cast.

This one had a smaller mouth but was quite a bit chunkier than the others.

I continued to fish until 8:15, when the action slowed and the fish started getting smaller again. I was able to walk my kayak back home and fix breakfast for Lisa and myself. What a great morning of fishing!

This small fellow was hungry!

Dog Days of Summer (Video)

Dog Days of Summer get you down? Pandemic get you down? Then, check out my latest video. I spent 2 hours at a friend’s lake/pond and I was able to entice a few bass to eat a deer-hair frog popper. The days are actually getting shorter and I think there is a little bit of thermal cooling taking place. That, coupled with some afternoon showers, is gradually cooling the water enough to get them to come back to the shallows to feed on frogs and baby bream. Enjoy!